DATE MISSING: August 30, 2014
LOCATION: Atlanta, GA.
WEIGHT: 240 Pounds
POSITION: Tight End
O.J. Howard was last seen on August 30, 2014 warming up before the game in Atlanta, Georgia. A witness from the sideline said he may have been spotted in the seconds leading up to Blake Sims' lone interception against West Virginia, but no one else has been able to confirm this as he had 0 receptions for the game.
This isn't the first time O.J. Howard has been believed to be missing. Other instances starting from the most recent include: January 2, 2014 in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, October 26, 2014 in Tuscaloosa against Tennessee, and September 28, 2014 in Tuscaloosa against Ole Miss.
Howard is a former 5 star recruit and was ranked as the 20th overall player in the class of 2013 in 247Sports composite recruiting rankings. He was forecasted to be a breakout player for Alabama due to his combination of his 6'6 size and his 4.49 40 speed, but his production has been limited by his multiple disappearances. Howard is best known for his 52 yard touchdown in the second quarter against LSU last year where he split the LSU secondary and used his speed to out run them into the end zone.
Many thought Howard would would become more visible following this play, but instead was rarely seen for the rest of the season only accumulating 3 receptions, 44 yards, and 0 TDs in the remaining 4 games. Howard only had 14 receptions, 269 yards, and 2 TDs last season even though he had 19.2 yards per catch and was the biggest mismatch Alabama had on offense. Howard's absence is reminiscent of Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was rarely seen during Alabama's first five games last year. Cooper had 9 receptions for 100 yards during that five game stretch compared to his 12 receptions for 130 yards against West Virginia this year.
Some believed that former offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was to blame for O.J. Howard's frequent disappearances, and as punishment, Nussmeier was shipped off to Michigan to be forced to spend all of his time defending the Big Ten's football relevancy.
But in light of his most recent disappearance and as result of new evidence, five more suspects are being looked at as potential perpetrators for Howard's continued absence.
SUSPECT 1: Lane Kiffin
Since it seems apparent that the last offensive coordinator was involved in last year's disappearances, it is logical to conclude that this year's offensive coordinator is involved. Lane Kiffin became the offensive coordinator at Alabama after going from offensive wizard at USC, to pissing off the Oakland Raiders front office, to pissing off the entire state of Tennessee, to finally being fired at USC after not living up to absurd expectations of the USC fan base. So now at Alabama (where the fan-base has absurd expectations for him to live up to), Kiffin is the play-caller and orchestrator of the Alabama offense. It is very possible that his play-calling is the cause of Howard's absence. However, the excellence of Alabama's other skill players and the volume of targets by Amari Cooper and DeAndrew White makes it seem unlikely that Kiffin was the cause of Howard's disappearance as he has proven to be able to get the ball to Alabama's best players.
SUSPECT 2: Nick Saban
Nick Saban is the all-ruling overlord of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team. As such, anything that he wants to happen will happen. He commands it, and it is done. So it seems odd that Saban wouldn't want the Alabama offense to find one of its most explosive weapons. Is it possible that Howard is in the dog house for reasons unknown to the general public? Does he just hate athletic tight ends? The prevailing theory is that Howard still has a long way to go in his blocking ability, and as a result isn't being used as much in the offense causing his disappearance. But as seen in the touchdown against LSU, he doesn't need to be on the line to be utilized, as he can be lined up on the outside/in the slot. So his struggles as a blocker isn't an effective reason for his absence in the passing game.
SUSPECT 3: Blake Sims
Blake Sims is the starting quarterback (well kind of). The quarterback is the player who throws the ball to the other players. Mostly to players on the same team, but sometimes to the other team. But because Sims is the starting quarterback, it ultimately rests on him for actually getting O.J. Howard the ball. The tight end is supposed to be an inexperienced quarterback's best friend, so it seems strange that Howard disappeared during the West Virginia game, as you would have thought Sims would be looking for him. It is hard to peg too much of this on Sims though, as it was his first game starting for Alabama and you would imagine that he is just sticking to what he is being told to do. Plus, you can't blame Sims for wanting to look to Amari Cooper every play. It's really just the logical, safe thing to do when you have a future top 5 pick at wide receiver.
SUSPECT 4: Mars, Incorporated
O.J. Howard used to eat a lot of Snickers. He has now decided to switch his diet from Snickers to ice cream. Mars, Incorporated owns Snickers. I'm sure Howard has been eating Snickers for a long time. Is it possible that Mars, Incorporated is the reason for the disappearance Saturday because Howard's betrayal to his long time lovel? If it's true, it's really sad because this all could have been easily avoided if Howard knew about the greatness of Snickers Ice Cream Bars. It does seem unlikely though because Mars, Incorporated is a 33 billion dollar company and O.J. Howard is just one person not eating Snickers.
SUSPECT 5: Bob Stoops
Because he is a hater, and hater's hate.
If you see O.J. Howard or have any information on his whereabouts, please inform the Alabama offense as soon as possible, and hopefully he will reappear before the Florida Atlantic game.